CAMDEN — Here in Sacred Heart Church, in front of the community’s school students on Jan. 30, Bishop Dennis Sullivan preached not of a flavor of the month, but a flavor of a lifetime.
“Like salt, our Catholic schools in South Jersey give flavor,” he said.
“Our schools give the flavor of Jesus Christ — the flavor of goodness, the flavor of justice, the flavor of peace. We’re very proud of our schools; they do for children what schools need to do for children, helping them grow in God, body, knowledge and mind.”
Bishop Sullivan’s visit to the elementary school kicked off the nationwide Catholic Schools Week in the Diocese of Camden. His remarks came in the middle of a prayer service that included an introductory greeting from Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, who welcomed the bishop to the South Camden community.
Noting that the bishop’s last name, Sullivan, means “bright eyes” in Gaelic, Msgr. Doyle said it was an appropriate moment, as Sacred Heart’s weeklong theme in the school was “Let Your Light Shine.”
“When you have bright eyes, you’re doing it all the time,” Msgr. Doyle said to those gathered which, in addition to the bishop and the school community, included Camden Mayor Dana Redd, who attended Sacred Heart School.
The Sacred Heart student choir shared a song of peace with the congregation, and the school’s youth also shared ways they will let their own light shine, whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen; raising awareness for such issues as violence, poverty and inequality; or being a good student and classmate.
“The role of Catholic schools, especially in Camden, is important to give families in this city a school of choice, a faith of choice,” said Sister Karen Dietrich, SSJ, executive director of Catholic Partnership Schools, under whose guidance Sacred Heart operates.
“The support and leadership of Bishop Sullivan is clear; for the children to see him, meet him, know him, and that he believes in them, is everything to them,” she said.
The school is 90 years old and currently has 184 students. Most, 70 percent, are African American. Hispanic children make up 20 percent and Asian 5 percent.
Sacred Heart School has a drama club, a cross country team, violin lessons for students in 4-8, and partnerships with Abrakadoodle and Rutgers Center for the Arts.
Continuing the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Sullivan was scheduled to also visit Saint Vincent de Paul Regional School in Mays Landing, and Blackwood’s Our Lady of Hope Regional School, later in the week.